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  1. #1
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    What's in your Coffee Travel Kit?

    In the wish list thread, I brought up a coffee kit, and what I would like in a TB Coffee kit. And then we got someone sharing what they used when traveling, so I thought maybe it worth discussing what coffee equipment folks carry when traveling (if any).

    So, here is my travel set-up for coffee making:

    What's in your Coffee Travel Kit?-collage-jpg

    In the top photo, you can see the stuff I carry:

    (L-R back row) An inexpensive double-walled stainless steel French Press, two Hydroflask rocks glasses (also insulated), Porlex grinder (regular size, not mini, though the regular isn't a big grinder)

    (L-R front row) electric coil immersion heater (cheap - about $8), Sugar-in-the-Raw packet(s), silicon spatula for cleaning the grounds out of the FP, 1 TBSP coffee scoop, Porlex crank handle, silicon lids to put over the coffee cups and not spill (the lids for the Hydroflask tumblers aren't leak-proof)

    In the two bottom photos, you can see three things of note:

    1. When fully loaded, my bag doesn't close properly - the stuff inside is too tall/wide, even though I can get it zipped, the clasps don't reach. So the flap just sits across the top.
    2. Most stuff is in the main compartment, but the immersion heater and the sugar packets are in the outside pockets (and if it gets turned upside down - they'll fall out, because the flap doesn't latch.
    3. There's barely room for coffee beans. I pre-measure what I need before leaving home into a ziplock baggie, and it gets tucked inside.


    The bag is a cheap cotton-canvas camera bag from Amazon - it probably cost no more than $25. I'd wanted to use the camera bag inserts, but there wasn't room for them and all my stuff, so I removed them. It's really not a bad bag, and it (mostly) works for me. I've investigated buying bags from a couple of different coffee sellers (they collaborated with bag companies), but they don't sell them empty, and I don't want to pay for additional equipment when I've got the equipment I want already. So far as I can find only one bag company (Manhattan Portage) that sells a coffee travel bag that isn't already stocked with equipment (you can get the same bag WITH equipment, from the coffee company they worked with), and it looks like a fine bag, but I have reason to believe it won't fit my stuff (it's designed to be JUST big enough for an AeroPress, a Porlex, two cups, and that's about it). And I don't want to buy an expensive bag that won't meet my needs, when my cheap one already does that.

    I also am going to be replacing the brewer soon - I backed a Kickstarter for something called the Rite Press, which I'm pretty excited by. I'm going to replace the press I have with the 1/2 liter Rite Press, which is much easier to clean, and has an onboard timer and thermometer. It's also smaller, making just enough for my two 10-ounce Hydroflasks, which will be nice when traveling.

    I also have some unique needs regarding coffee: My husband HATES the smell. So over our 21+ years of marriage, we've had to work out how to make things work with my hobby. Namely, during the work week, I wait until he leaves for work before brewing, and on the weekends, he goes to his computer in the basement, and we close the kitchen door so he can avoid the smell while I'm brewing/drinking my coffee. Grounds are kept in a small compost bucket outside, and no coffee equipment other than my every-day brewer itself (which I fully rinse between uses) is stored out on the counter. Beans are stored in Airscape canisters inside a plastic rough-tote-type container, which is stored along with my grinder inside a closed cabinet that I've sealed up with plastic cardboard, and weather stripping. But, I get to have an entire (small) cabinet dedicated to my hobby. :-)

    But, that's why my grinder is stored in a ziplock bag inside my travel kit. I can wash the FP out, and my beans are double-bagged, and we put my whole kit at the FAR end of our SUV (right near the tailgate), as far from the driver's seat as possible. But one typically doesn't wash grinders often, so I tap the grinder to remove as many grounds as I can, but it's the stinkiest part of my kit. So I was delighted when I found a tall skinny ziplock that fits the grinder nicely, and it helps contain the aromas.

    I started putting this kit together after my trip to China with my mother back in 2015. I discovered that outside of the big cities, it's hard to get decent coffee. The hotels in Beijing and Shanghai both had regular drip-brewed coffee that was - if not good - at least reasonable (equivalent in quality to what you'd get at fast food places here in the States). It would not have been worth carrying coffee equipment when traveling in a foreign country, where packing space is limited, if that had been the case everywhere. But outside of the big cities, the hotels only served this 3-in-1 stuff - it's basically instant coffee with sugar and creamer already added. It tastes a bit like those old International Foods Coffee mixes did. They would just fill a glass Bunn carafe with hot water, and dump in the powder, stir, and call it coffee. It was awful stuff, and I drank it for the caffeine.... but I found myself wishing I could brew some real coffee. And every Chinese hotel room came set up for tea-making, with an electric kettle, tea packets, sugar (... and yes, 3-in-1 packets), so it would have been easy, if I'd had a brewer, grinder, and some beans.

    I primarily use my coffee kit when camping, or on road trips where space isn't an issue. When we're camping, I heat water over the campfire - we have a small kettle that nests in our camping mess kit. The immersion heater (which is crazily SLOW to heat water, but it takes up little space) is for when we're staying in motels. My husband doesn't mind being close by when I'm brewing outdoors, though he tries to stay upwind. Lol.

    Anyway - what coffee equipment do you travel with? What problems have you overcome? (I'm still looking for better ways to heat water when I DO have access to electricity, myself).
    Last edited by CathyWeeks; 06-17-2018 at 07:03 AM.

  2. #2
    Forum Member fredlet's Avatar
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    What's in your Coffee Travel Kit?

    Quote Originally Posted by CathyWeeks View Post

    Anyway - what coffee equipment do you travel with? What problems have you overcome? (I'm still looking for better ways to heat water when I DO have access to electricity, myself).
    As I mentioned before I use the travel drip cone but usually rely on a hotel or whatever Iím staying to have hot water. If Iím camping I have my cookstove anyway. If I know I wonít have hot water where Iím going I have a little travel kettle which is teeny tiny. I just bring either cafť bustelo or carte noir which is ground for espresso which is my preferred grind anyway. Then I get cream at wherever Iím at and mix it in the mornings.

    2018 Wish List
    https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?sha...7&share_type=t

    fredletsTravels
    http://www.fredletsTravels.com
    Last edited by fredlet; 06-17-2018 at 01:27 AM.

  3. #3
    Forum Member TRD's Avatar
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    Cathy you are my hero. I just get coffee from
    wherever and cross my fingers.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredlet View Post
    If I know I won’t have hot water where I’m going I have a little travel kettle which is teeny tiny.
    Which travel kettle do you have? And do you recommend it?

  5. #5
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    Thanks! :-D

    I just get coffee from
    wherever and cross my fingers.
    I pretty often do that, too. And for years, when we went camping, I'd just buy a few Starbucks frappuccinos (the ones in the glass bottles available at any gas station), and have those. And my teenaged daughter would get a Double Shot. But at one point, she just decided she didn't like them very well, and I realized I didn't either, and brewing coffee while camping isn't a huge deal for my husband.

    Traveling alone, I probably wouldn't bother with brewing my own - I'd just get something at coffee shops or whatever. That coffee - while not as good as my own - is plenty drinkable. But when I'm on a road trip with my husband, that isn't realistic, because it means bringing it into the car with my husband, and neither he nor I want to put up with his coughing (we think he may have a mild allergy or sensitivity of some sort). I can brew coffee in our hotel room after he's cleared out, clean up, pop a lid on my cup of coffee, and then take it in with me to breakfast. It's just easier to work around him that way. Plus, I get a much better cup of coffee. :-)
    Last edited by CathyWeeks; 06-17-2018 at 07:54 AM.

  6. #6
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    This has been my mainstay for a while, a pouch (or these days, a Cubelet), filled with Starbucks VIA packs. I try to ensure that there will be a kettle at my destination to heat water; usually it is not a problem. I do have an immersion heater, which I used to carry more regularly, and still take as a backup if I am going to West Africa. In that case it is sometimes worth it to also pack a Klean Kanteen or similar vacuum style mug as well.

    What's in your Coffee Travel Kit?-coffee_kit-jpg

    The VIA packs are harder to find lately. Some stores do not sell them, and some have only "exotic" types with sugar and flavors already mixed in. I just want black coffee.
    Last edited by bchaplin; 06-17-2018 at 08:35 AM.
    ----
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  7. #7
    Forum Member fredlet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CathyWeeks View Post
    Which travel kettle do you have? And do you recommend it?
    I have a very old one that looks vaguely like like this, but I got from an online travel store that may or may not still exist... (I was in 1998 ish?)
    Thereís some cool ones out there but I donít know if I have any recommendations since I have no experience with them. The silicone collapsible ones look nifty! (I might be biased though Wink. )

    Iíll post a break down of my travel food pack soon.


    fredletsTravels
    http://www.fredletsTravels.com

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TRD View Post
    Cathy you are my hero. I just get coffee from
    wherever and cross my fingers.
    same. I love coffee and I am pretty picky about what beans I have at home but I just can't afford the space in my bag to travel with all this equipment.

    Between foursquare, eater, etc, it's usually not too hard to find a decent cuppa on the road. In the worst case I've found that starbucks tea game has gotten a ton better lately.

    FWIW, I just got back from San Francisco, I highly recommend David Rio's Chai Bar on Market & 6th. Off the hook.

  9. #9
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    If driving, I carry a collapsible kettle, aeropress, my own ground coffee, and usually some tea bags as well. If flying, I have started using an immersion heater because I got searched a couple of times because of the kettle at security. I also like the via packs in a pinch. I find the hot water part is the hardest part - I dislike using the tepid water from the hotel in room coffee makers. Also I find they always taste weird when making tea.
    Last edited by spcanf; 06-17-2018 at 10:14 PM.

  10. #10
    Forum Member fredlet's Avatar
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    Oh, thereís another coffee thread here:
    Travel Coffee Setup
    https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?sha...2&share_type=t


    fredletsTravels
    http://www.fredletsTravels.com

  11. #11
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    Oh, there’s another coffee thread here:
    (groan) - you know, I even read that thread, but had forgotten about it when I started this one. Smirk

  12. #12
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    I travel with a Kalita Wave 185 stainless to make pour overs, with enough filters for the trip. I will pregrind my coffee and bring that, usually in an empty Illy can. I don't bring a fancy kettle or anything, usually boiling the water and pouring it from a pyrex measuring cup, or just the pot, works just fine.

  13. #13
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    Big coffee fan here with a few recommendations to add:

    1. I bought an Aergrind grinder earlier this year and it was the best $150 bucks or so Iíve spent somewhere other than Tom Bihn in a while. Super compact, yet capable of grinding proper espresso on up to French Press. Quickly, too. Itís designed to fit in an Aeropress. Only downside is limited capacity means you have to do a few rounds of brewing for multiple people, but itís fast enough that itís not an issue.

    2. Espro makes the best French press gear, and theyíve got two travel mugs. Iíve got the older, slightly heavier one, which most of the time just serves as my insulated mug that fits perfectly in my Stowaway and other TB drink compartments.

    3. If youíre more of an espresso person, the Flair espresso maker is not as portable as some of the little pump machines out there but actually produces better shots than most electric machines that are 3-4x the price. Suitcase portable, Iíd say.

    4. Frank Green in Australia makes some great takeaway coffee cups that can help you be more environmentally kind in supporting your coffee habit.

    5. Lastly, instant coffee is having a moment among some of the top cafes. Check out offerings from Joe Coffee (NY) and Ultimo (Philly).

  14. #14
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    I bought an Aergrind grinder earlier this year and it was the best $150 bucks or so Iíve spent somewhere other than Tom Bihn in a while. Super compact, yet capable of grinding proper espresso on up to French Press. Quickly, too. Itís designed to fit in an Aeropress. Only downside is limited capacity means you have to do a few rounds of brewing for multiple people, but itís fast enough that itís not an issue.
    Had to google for that one - it's a Knock grinder? I've had my eye on the Knock grinders forever ... but they ARE expensive (and the overseas shipping isn't cheap). I spent that kind of money on my LIDO2 grinder but I use it every single day. So, my Porlex which is solidly mediocre (and has a similar form factor to the Knock grinders) has been relegated to my travel kit.

    I also have a Handground, which is really nice in a lot of ways (not stepless though), but the ergonomics are terrible, and compared to the LIDO (which has bigger burrs), is really, really slow to grind.

  15. #15
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    Do any coffee people have recommendations for a filter to sit on top of a cup? Or an immersion heater to buy?

    Iíd thought about adding those to make coffee in a hotel room. (And to justify ridiculously expensive cups that I bought for travel.)

    I wasnít sure what to buy ó or whether some of the filters require paper filters inside them.

    Thanks

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